During her time serving as San Francisco district attorney, Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) supported a policy that required local law enforcement to report the arrest of juvenile illegal immigrants to federal immigration authorities.
Harris, who as a 2020 presidential contender has cast herself as an advocate for illegal immigrants, in 2008 publicly supported then-mayor Gavin Newsom’s implementation of a policy that required local law-enforcement officers to report the arrest of illegal juvenile aliens suspected of committing a felony, regardless of whether they were ultimately convicted.
Harris’s campaign spokesman Ian Sams defended her record in comments to CNN, which resurfaced her old position in a Monday article.
“[The] policy was intended to protect the sanctuary status of San Francisco and to ensure local police, who needed to have strong relationships with the communities they serve regardless of immigration status, were not forced to operate as immigration agents, which is the responsibility of the federal government. Looking back, this policy could have been applied more fairly,” Sams said.
Despite her recent record of advocating for more-permissive immigration policy — including the lack of cooperation with federal law enforcement inherent in sanctuary-city policies — Harris’s nascent presidential run has been met with skepticism by progressives wary of her prosecutorial record during her time as San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general.
Newsom implemented the policy in question after Edwin Ramos, then a 21-year-old illegal alien, was arrested for the murder of three people in San Francisco. Four years earlier, Ramos had been arrested and found guilty of robbery and assault, but was not reported to federal immigration authorities. Newsom later vetoed legislation that would have only required arrested illegal immigrants be reported to federal authorities after they were convicted of a felony.
Harris defended the policy during a 2009 speech at Stanford University in which she emphasized the importance of cooperating with federal authorities to enforce the law.
“There was then an initiative that was written by the board of supervisors that was passed and there was opposition to that but it did pass,” Harris said. “And so we’re gonna have to wait to see how the courts interpret what it means. From my perspective, I think that it would be in conflict with federal law, and we have to follow the law. We have to follow that law. You may not agree with it, but you know, that’s why we have a process where you can challenge laws. And it is the law.”